EU Debate Program
Click on each name to view the statement given
Introduction of the Moderator
Ben Kashdan (Class of 2014)
Austin Pederson Independent
Joseph Perron Republican
Nicole Payne International
Jeremy Teetor Democrat
Rebecca Sansale Republican
John Cameron Crowder Democrat
Natalie Cuzmenco Independent
Ala Eddine Maaref International
Ben Waldon Democrat
Wesley I. Rose Independent
Muhammad Musah International
Mark Rehbein Republican
Same-Sex Marriage Statement
Ameya Benegal International
Carly Ledbetter Democrat
D. Patrick Brown Republican
Martin Fowler Independent
Jack Minor, Jr. Republican
David Gagne Independent
Emily Ackers International
Hannah Ignasher Democrat
Questions and Answers from the Audience
Please write a question on the card provided and hand to a member of the EU Debate Committee standing in the aisle.
Reception to Follow in Foyer
Just before George Washington left the office of President of the United States, he wrote a Farewell Address to inspire and guide the people of this nation. In this famous writing, Washington cautioned against the dangers that political parties pose to the nation as a whole. He warned that the alternate control of one party over another, if not restrained by the people, will distract the government from its proper duties and result in periods of tyranny. Today, George Washington’s worst fears have come true. Our two-party system is destroying this country by producing candidates that seem to care less and less about the liberty of the people. This election cycle, the Republican and Democratic parties have once again given us two lackluster candidates whose stances on issues, such as healthcare and the economy, are far more similar than they are different.
But this is the whole point of the two-party system – the two-party duopoly. It keeps the American people focused on a senseless battle between two increasingly identical ideologies. Instead of allowing people to vote based on their ideals, the duopoly forces people into voting for candidates who are automatically tied to the set of rigid and often contradictory principles that their party upholds. For example, why should Republicans who describe themselves as “economically conservative”, support trillion dollar spending on unnecessary wars? Or why would Democrats who supposedly want the government to “get out of people’s lives” support increasing people’s taxes? There are, of course, many independent and third party candidates who run in elections, but the mainstream national media often refuses to give them a fair voice.
Tonight, members of the independent team will advocate for alternative solutions to the economy, healthcare, and same-sex marriage that are scarcely offered by Democrats and Republicans. I have joined the independent team to support people who voice other perspectives and express dissatisfaction with the powerful parties that George Washington warned us about.
The only way to argue we are better off today than we were 4 years ago would be to do so without using statistics, but rather phrases involving the words hope, fair share, and forward, as well as a request for more time. If we spend more and raise taxes, we can reach the utopia promised to us in speech after speech. Should we trust a man whose experience and knowledge about how to grow an economy, and raise the standard of living for all Americans, is centered around a belief that apart from government and collectivism we cannot achieve? To assure you that the policies of the last 4 years have not only been ineffective, but destructive, let us remember a few things. The democrat party held both Houses of Congress for the first 2 years of President Obama’s tenure. Policies were enacted and now we have results. Middle-income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. Health care costs have gone up by $2,500 a family. The national average for the price of gas when Obama took office was $1.85, today it is $3.65. Last year over 80% of college graduates moved back in with their parents.
The question now is do we continue the policy of growing government and our debt, ($6 trillion of which can be attributed to the last 4 years) Or, do we hire a man and a party who understand that the growth of our economy, rather than the growth of government and debt, raises standards of living, creates wealth and jobs, and helps alleviate poverty.
The contrast between the 2 candidates qualifications and beliefs are stark. One believes all Americans should share in everything, the other believes all Americans should share in the opportunity to prosper.What we have seen is that there are efficient, and less efficient ways to do this. The way to achieve this goal is not through financing a government that is full of inefficiencies, but rather to empower citizens through their own economic means and free pursuit of their dreams.
The possibility of upward mobility is what makes this country great. Let’s elect a man who believes that a free people allowed to pursue their aspirations rather than being told they cannot do it on their own, can grow, invent, flourish,create wealth, and enjoy the highest standard of living in the world.
Good Evening. I’m sure many of you are wondering why there is an international perspective included in this debate. There is a great lack of awareness about international affairs in American culture. Even in the United States government, foreign policy is not always a priority, particularly when economy takes precedent.
However, the American people, especially those who are voting, need to realize that there is an entire world out there, not just the Middle East or China. A focus on foreign policy and awareness of international affairs in addition to domestic issues is crucial to success and power in today’s world.
As an international team is this debate, our goal is to provide an expansive global perspective on the three issues presented. We will not choose a side, but rather inform about how the rest of the world views these upcoming elections and the larger global currents surrounding them.
At a time when globalization, technology, and international trade are rapidly making the world smaller and smaller, it is no longer acceptable to adapt policies of isolationism. If the United States wants to remain a leader in the global scene and remain at the top of their game, the whole country and its people need to become more aware and involved in global affairs.
Most importantly, any country, especially the United States, cannot exist and thrive in today’s world, unless it keeps in mind how it’s decisions impact global issues. It is time for America to realize the world is changing, its centers of influence are changing, and America needs to examine how it wants to position itself within the world in the future.
The effects of a previous president’s policies do not dissipate as soon as the next president takes office. Public policy has consequences for many years. When the Democratic Party regained control of the White House, the U.S. economy was still shedding jobs, and eight million lost jobs cannot return over night. The economy is slowly but surely showing signs of recovery. The gross domestic product is rising and jobs are returning. Now is not the time to change course. As Americans become increasingly diverse, those who are scared of what that means have reacted more fiercely than ever. The Republican Party, recently hijacked by the tea party movement, frequently yells, “It’s time to take our country back.” We can’t help but ask, “Take it back from whom?” A fairly elected, American born citizen is serving as our president and commander-in-chief. What truly has happened is that the greedy of this country are outraged that the current administration strives to level the playing field for: the middle class by demanding fair pay and access to health care. The ultra-wealthy have spent millions funding tea party rallies and deceptive advertising in an effort to convince the rest of America that the president cannot be trusted. They have gone to the extent of accusing him of not being born in the United States and have been proven wrong several times. The Republican Party has made it clear they are more interested in replacing President Obama than anything else. They are so committed to this aim, that their presidential candidate has offered nothing more than sound bites and ever changing views. As you listen to the democratic panel tonight, you will see that we are the party of ideas with a plan that has moved America forward from the brink of disaster and a plan that will continue to make this country great.
What we have here is a failure to take responsibility for a disastrous economy. Day after day, small business owners and their families take blow after blow to their bank accounts because of President Obama’s so-called “fair tax plan”. I come from a family who built their own businesses from the ground up. My great grandparents immigrated here from Poland and Italy and worked hard in steel mills to provide for their large families. As my grandparents grew older, they decided to create their own companies so they could be self-sufficient and be able to pass something down to their children to provide for their families, too. Now, through sleep-deprived nights, financial struggles and 100 hour work weeks, my parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, collectively employ about 500 people and are attempting to keep their businesses afloat during this recession. President Obama claims he is taking from those who are too well off and giving to those in need but is that really the solution? President Obama is stripping the freedom from these small companies, ripping these job creating institutions limb from limb because he considers them the one who are stealing from society. Well, Mr. Obama, I would like to tell you one thing- I built that. Why are you attacking the companies that have created 65% of new jobs over the past 17 years, and employ half of all of the private sector employees? Each week my father tells me about a new regulation he must abide by or a new payroll tax has been issued. When will it stop? Mr. Obama is strangling our economy one business by one, diminishing the labor force and increasing the debt everyday. We must put an end to this madness. Instead of hurting these job creators, entrepreneurs, and inventors, why don’t we fuel their ideas and help them create more opportunities for everyone to succeed? We must embrace what others have achieved and help them help others. But, under you, President Obama, you have caused chaos and class warfare. Citizens have turned against citizens in revolt due to unfair economic circumstances. Enough is enough. Government must step back and allow us to have our liberty back.
We know why the economy collapsed four years ago; the U.S. housing market was not regulated. Wall-Street had trillions of dollars’ worth of mortgage-backed securities that they sliced and diced and used as collateral. Bear Sterns, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers went belly up as millions of homeowners all across this nation discovered that their primary asset was their primary liability. Disposable income of Americans vanished and if Social Security was privatized like Paul Ryan wanted, seniors retiring with dignity would have been a pipedream.
The Democrats do not reject capitalism. We believe in the idea of free-enterprise, consumer choice, fiscal responsibility and deficit reduction. We do not believe that government is the center of everything; we do not reject the notion that government does not have all the answers. What we do reject; however, is the assumption that a shattered economy can heal itself. The auto-bailout saved 1 million jobs. Under President Obama, we have reversed a Bush-led recession that was losing 800,000 jobs into a recovery that has created 5.2 million jobs. President Obama has cut taxes for 95 percent of American families and veterans—according to Gallup Economy—the unadjusted unemployment rate is now at 7.3 percent and dropping. This President has not failed and the recovery is alive and well.
We are facing an unprecedented economic crisis in this country. The government is consistently borrowing money, spending tax dollars recklessly, and our elected leaders cannot agree on a viable solution. We must face the facts: we have to cut government spending.
U.S. defense spending is currently 7x larger than next highest country, and 40% of the entire world. The “War on Drugs” has failed, although the U.S. government continues to spend billions on it - 40 billion dollars this past fiscal year. Social security, medicare and medicaid currently take up around 44% of the annual budget, over 1 trillion dollars. After calculating the growing number of retirees and population benefitting from these programs, we are on track to spend 100% of our budget on these programs alone.
Moreover, the Federal Reserve, a privately owned entity, has no regulation or oversight, and has been printing trillions of dollars to loan to foreign banks and to bail out failing companies. This is not a solution to our problems. Money and wealth cannot be “created” - it must be earned, otherwise, it reduces the value of every dollar earned.
The government is accruing debt at an unsustainable rate, yet they are sending the misleading message to the public saying that we can afford to continue this spending. Our credit is at risk of being downgraded again, which can have devastating effects on our inflation, and in turn, the value of our currency. If our currency loses value, all Americans that have any savings, retirement funds or investments are at risk of losing everything. This is, indeed, a crisis. Solutions will not come from bipartisan efforts, but from nonpartisan efforts. Thank you.
During this campaign both candidates concentrated their effort in convincing the people either that the economy is bad and if it keeps going in this direction it’ll get worse or that the economy is bad but is recovering and headed in the right direction.
I want to make a quick comparative analysis with what is happening economically in other places around the world. The closest economy that can be compared to the US is the European Union. The biggest issue is unemployment so let’s see how Europe is doing on that and compare it to the US.
Right before the economic crisis in 2008 in the US the unemployment was under 5% and in EU under 7% and after the crisis the rate increased quickly both in the US and Europe. Then, here unemployment rate started decreasing until dropping under 8% in recent stats. At the same time in the European Union unemployment is still increasing, it is over 10.5% and still expected to increase.
Also, interdependencies of resources, supplies, markets and economies in general make it crucial to be aware of international events. The world is watching the American economy closely and America should be doing the same.
It very important to understand that what is happening in the US economy is highly affecting other parts of the world and also is affected by what is happening there too.
Good Evening. In 2009, this country had the highest healthcare costs relative to the size of our economy of any nation in the world. Health care costs more now that is ever has. Regardless of how you feel about the size of government, or the role of government, something must be done to control the outrageous cost of healthcare in this country. It is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it is a human issue.
Thankfully, something has been done. In 2010 President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, this law will substantially reduce the cost of health care, decrease the deficit by $143 billion dollars and provide health insurance coverage for 32 million people by the year 2019. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a more misunderstood piece of legislation.
Lets talk about the facts. The most controversial provision is the individual mandate that requires uninsured citizens to purchase private health insurance. Many people question the government’s authority to require citizens to buy a “commercial product”, insurance. But we require drivers to have car insurance if they want to travel on our roads. Like uninsured drivers, citizens without health insurance place a burden on all of us. People without health insurance rely disproportionally on emergency room care, which is more expensive than a normal doctors visit and dramatically more expensive than preventative measures. Citizens without insurance increase premiums for the rest of us when their medical bills go unpaid.
Some may continue to bash the Affordable Care Act, but to those who do I would say what is your alternative? Do you simply say no, you’re on your own? My response and the response of my party is that, no you’re not on your own and we are all in this together.
Today, people in Massachusetts pay the highest health insurance premiums in the country and 23.8% of claims are denied. That’s the model that the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) followed. We don’t need a new government Band-Aid (no pun intended) for Healthcare. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security were all bulletproof ideas in the beginning, now take a look at them.
When we have more government, industrialists take it over, and that’s been the case with medicine. We rarely ask our doctors: “How much does it cost?” Because we use insurance to pay for even the most routine appointments, and because employers and government pay for a large portion of insurance premiums, the cost of medical treatment eludes us. But we do know how much the premiums and co-pays cost. It’s nearly impossible to find the true costs. As a result we can’t make cost-conscious decisions. If we could, competition would help control cost.
The federal government should 1) Extend tax exemptions to individuals to help get away from a system that favors corporate insurance and medicine. 2) Eliminate insurance policies mandate and permit people to buy across state lines. 3) Promote health-savings accounts that allow people to set aside pre-tax dollars for routine health care, and money that’s not used can be rolled over and can ultimately be used for retirement. Individuals can control their own money. Healthcare providers would have to offer better service at lower prices in order to survive. We need to let the marketplace, or at least what’s left of it, work for individuals not for government-protected corporations.
On Tuesday, August 28th 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that America has the world's greatest healthcare system. My research has led me to believe that this statement is inaccurate. 12 years ago the World Health Organization released the World Health Report 2000. The results showed that America's healthcare system was ranked 37th. As an American citizen I feel that if our nation does not try to learn from it's successful counterparts we will be shooting ourselves in the foot. By looking at what our peers are doing right and emulating them, we will steer ourselves clear of failure.
The question is what kind of system is the right one. France had the #1 ranked policy in the world. The French system combines private and public sectors to provide universal health coverage to all. Most citizens receive their insurance through their employer and almost everyone has supplemental private insurance. The fact that France's plan worked for France does not mean that it will work for America. We need to realize that whether it is Obamacare or Romney's plan, there must be a solution for America.
As we all know, healthcare is one of the biggest and most pressing issues in this upcoming election. It is so pressing because, in the last four years, things have really changed. If we look at it by the numbers, a majority of Americans do not approve of the President’s health care system. This system, commonly referred to as Obamacare, raised taxes by $500 Billion dollars. To help pay for it, $500 billion was also taken away from our already struggling Medicare program. When I asked my uncle, a well-known doctor from Virginia Beach, what he thought of Obamacare, his answer was staggering. He honestly wasn’t sure, and assured me that most of his colleagues weren’t either, as to what all Obamacare included. He did note that the giant cuts to Medicare had an immediate impact on his business. In a nutshell, instead of making a 25 percent profit a year, doctors will only make a 2.5 percent profit. This means that doctors will not be able to hire more people, invest in new technology, and may even have to lay off current staff. Does this sound like a plan that will get us moving forward?
Unfortunately, that’s only what happens after we cut Medicare. As I mentioned earlier, most doctors don’t really understand what exactly Obamacare entails. In the interest of time, we should stick to some of the main provisions of this act that simply do not make sense. Most small businesses cannot afford to insure employees at the rate the government is asking. Obamacare also calls for full insurance coverage of part-time employees and their families. This will sink small business. Besides this major issue, Obamacare also advocates for reduced care and exempts illegal aliens from paying any fees or taxes for care.
To quote governor Romney, “When was the last time a massive government program lowered cost, improved efficiency, or raised consistency of service?” If elected, Governor Romney will work with Congress to repeal Obamacare. He would strive to pursue policies that would take the healthcare debate to a state level. This would allow each state to better craft their plan and be adaptable to their own population.
Same-Sex Marriage Statement
In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written with over 30 articles explaining the basic rights of men and women. The clauses of Article 16 state that men and women have the right to marry, they are entitled to equal rights of marriage, their marriage shall be entered with full consent, and that the family is entitled to protection by society and state.
Some countries have interpreted this as grounds for legalizing same-sex marriage. As of 2012, 10 countries have legalized such marriage including Norway, Denmark, and Canada. In other countries, the process to legalize same-sex marriage is under consideration such as France. Though for the most part, same-sex marriage is prohibited in dozens of countries around the world.
These countries are ones which include strong, traditional values such as Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Chile, and with regard to the United States marriage is not part of federal law, it is left to the states, most of which have not legalized same-sex marriage. As an international student and supporter of same-sex marriage, I want to ask, will America’s policy on same sex marriage shift, or will it maintain the status quo?
Good evening everyone. I stand before you today to address the necessity of marriage equality. No matter your definition, marriage is a union between two people who love each other. The true issue in same-sex marriage is that legally married people get special rights that non-legally married people do not- which is a form of discrimination. That is why I am proud to support a President that treats members of the LGBTQ community as equal citizens of these United States.
During his 4 years in office, President Obama has ended a ban on openly gay members of the military and disavowed a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. 6 months ago, he publicly announced his support of same- sex marriage. President Obama understands America’s past, and our immediate need to move forward.
Because where Martin Luther King had a dream, and Billie Jean King had a Title- Democrats see a future. A future not far from here where same-sex marriage is no longer part of a platform, but instead a reality. For Mitt Romney and Republicans who do not believe in marriage equality- we have a message for you. You tell us that governments should stay out of our taxes, businesses, and our right to bear arms… Then I ask you to stay out of our marriages. Because if you are simply trying to preserve that sanctity of marriage, then I suggest you attempt to outlaw divorce, instead of love.
The official Republican Party platform on marriage notes that the states and the federal government have the right to not recognize same-sex marriage. The platform also backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has voiced his support for traditional marriage as critical for the well-being of a civilization and has expressed desire for protecting the Defense of Marriage Act. He has also supported a Federal Marriage Amendment which would define marriage as between one man and one woman.
The opinion of most Republicans is that decisions on marriage should be left up to the individual states. A perfect example of this came last year, when North Carolina voted to define marriage between one man and one woman as the only domestic legal union recognized by the state. The passage of this referendum by a margin of 22% demonstrates the support for such amendments. Nationally, six states and Washington, DC, recognize same-sex marriage, but 28 states have had constitutional amendments presented to define marriage as between a man and a woman, and in all 28 states, this amendment has passed. It is clear that although there is increasing national acceptance of homosexuals, a majority of Americans, when put to a vote, do not support allowing marriage.
The most effective means of governance is when it is closest to the people. Letting states make their decision whether or not to allow same-sex marriage is the only way to resolve this issue.
Independents neither endorse nor oppose anyone's marriage. Why? Because state and county courts already have statutes for marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance and adoption. The most sensible thing to do is to change a few pronouns and use those statutes to free courts from the crazy quilt of incompatible state and local domestic laws.
The good news is that same-sex marriage not only opens new rights and responsibilities for the couple but also for the couple’s family and community, enabling them to strengthen and support each other.
The bad news is that some people view their pre-existing right to marry as a privilege. When society extends a political franchise, they feel hurt. Americans, need to accept fairness and equality as compensation and consolation for that hurt and loss of status.
Independents recognize that civil marriage is different than holy matrimony. That said, religious institutions in the United States are not entirely disconnected from laws, rules, and regulations. When those values clash, both religious freedom and civil rights must be honored.
In summary, Independents believe that the state’s right to declare which relationships are legitimate is not as important as the people's right to live freely and responsibly within a social framework of consistent and predictable laws, rules, and expectations.
The issues we have spoken on tonight have just scraped the surface of what our nation faces. The 2012 presidential election is going to have enormous consequences on our future.
There is a financial crisis of a severity unprecedented since the Great Depression. Small businesses are crippled. 25 million people are out of work. At home…states rights are being ignored. And abroad our leadership is disappearing. We are at a crossroads. This is not a choice between two different candidates. It is a choice between two different futures for our nation. The President’s future means a growing debt. 23 million people out of work. And 50 percent of college graduates struggling to find good work. The President’s future is a bigger government that spends more. A government that regulates and controls more of our lives. While the President has faced challenges, placing the blame on the previous administration is no longer acceptable. The opposing future limits the growth of government and gets spending under control. The opposing future is one of job creation and hope in America.
Now is our time. Will we remain a great and prosperous nation? Or will we slide into further debt?
It rests in your hands. You are who’s interests the government serves. Will we choose a future where leadership is bleak or a future with an optimistic leader?
This nation is the hope of the Earth. We have all been blessed by God and the struggles of the generations before us. They have raised a torch for the world to see. A torch of freedom, hope, and opportunity. Now it is our turn to raise that torch. And with the right leadership, we can do it. Thank you.
The American public is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the same tired principles upheld ?by Democratic and Republican leaders, and the numbers back this up. Independents are the largest and fastest growing segment of the political electorate; in 1945, only 15% of Americans described themselves as Independent. Today, the number stands at over 40%. This reflects the growing frustration and declining faith in the two political parties on the part of the American people. This is not without reason. During the last 12 years, both the Democratic and Republican parties have at some point held the Presidency and Congressional majority. Yet,the economy is still slumping, our quality of healthcare consistently ranks outside the top twenty in the world while costs remain prohibitively high , and same-sex marriage continues to divide our nation.
Something has to be done. My fellow team members have offered alternative solutions to the most important issues voted on by the Elon students, faculty, staff, and community. We are not suggesting that the five of us reflect the full spectrum of political beliefs upheld by Independents; there are of course many viable solutions addressing the economy, healthcare, and same-sex marriage. However, the diversity of views and opinions among Independents is our strength; not our weakness. Indeed, tolerance and sharing of opposing views are the hallmark of a democratic-republican form of government. We as Independents are united only in our common interest to provide the best solutions to the most pressing issues facing our country today, regardless of who supports or opposes these policies.
It is tempting to simply follow an established party instead of developing opinions on the specific issues; I urge each of you to resist this inclination and decide for yourself what policies best serve the interests of the American people. Only then can we demand more accountability from our elected officials and expect a brighter America for generations to come.
America has been referred to as many things, they have been accused of “policing the world”, they are both admired and bashed, praised and criticized and as such under all the scrutiny it oftentimes feels like they look at things at as “us vs. them” as Elon students however, were encouraged to be “global citizens” and therefore it is important that we not only examine US policies in terms of how they are effecting us but that we also examine closely how they fit in within a global context and impact the other countries of the world. America has an important role to play, if it’s going to own these labels and accept that it is in fact “the leader of the free world” it is important that the policies are thusly worthy of the importance placed on them by other nations.
The world is getting smaller and smaller and all policies seem to influence each other at an increasing rate. When one economy crashes it creates a domino effect and likewise one countries decision to legalize same sex marriage whilst one choses not to prevents a couple from moving from one country another whilst maintaining their marital status. HealthCare systems, although not necessarily linked affect citizens of all countries and it is important that we are able to look to other nations to see what is working well and what isn’t. It is vital that we are able to recognize that whilst America may do something’s right and some policies maybe better than those in place in other countries, other nations may also have strong systems in place that could be replicated.
We need to increase this label of “global citizens” so that it applies not only to Elon students, but to everyone worldwide. We hope that we have helped to put the key issues in the upcoming elections in a more global context for you all and helped to frame the election in a more international setting.
As representatives of our party, our school, and our states, we strive not to further the divide between the opposition, and ourselves but to create a platform for the core values we stand for, ensuring that our voices are heard.
We stand for equality for everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion, nationality, and socioeconomic status. Where our friends, families, peers, and colleagues are not simply tolerated, but given equal opportunities and are treated with respect.
We stand for an economy where everyone pays their fair share and each American is given an opportunity to prosper.We stand for a nation where no citizen goes bankrupt because they are unable to afford healthcare or pay medical bills, and each person has access to affordable, quality medical care. So no person has to choose between their health or the ability to afford basic necessities such as place to live, groceries, and transportation.
As a nation, we are faced with each of these issues on a regular basis and we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to voice our opinions on each one. When you vote on November 6th, educate yourself. We hope that this evening, we could provide the opportunity to do just that. Tonight, I challenge each of you to empower yourselves. Align your values with the party that best represents them. Vote for the candidate representing that party. With each vote, we can move in the right direction: forward.